Caring for your pet in cold weather

Woman holding a young girl in one arm and stroking her gold retriever in the other whilst looking out of the window

When the temperatures take a tumble, you can just add an extra layer of clothing or get out those thick fleecy blankets to stay warm, but what about your pets?

Cats and dogs feel the cold weather too and are at risk of developing illnesses if they get too cold.

We’ve got some tips and advice to help keep your pets warm and cosy on those freezing days.



How to keep dogs warm in freezing weather

We recommend the following tips to help your dog stay warm as temperatures plummet:

  • Invest in a dog coat - Dogs that are very young or old, those with shorter hair and medical conditions that worsen in winter, such as arthritis, may benefit from wearing a dog coat when going outside for an extra layer of warmth.


  • Take care of paws - Taking your pooch for a stroll when it is icy or snowy can lead to snow or grit building up between their paw pads, which can cause discomfort and, in extreme conditions, could even lead to frostbite. Check their paws for any residual build-up and gently cleanse with warm water. Consider investing in dog boots for maximum paw protection if your dog tolerates them.


  • Keep them dry – Cold, damp air can often leave behind moisture in a dog’s fur, so it is recommended you dry them off after they have been outdoors so they can warm up as quickly as possible.


  • Consider indoor activities - If the temperature drops considerably, keep walks to a minimum until the weather settles. You can keep your dog active and entertained indoors by playing games with them and hiding toys and treats for them to sniff out.



How cold is too cold for my dog?

Each dog will respond differently to a drop in temperature. Puppies, older dogs, and breeds with shorter hair and certain medical conditions may feel the cold much quicker.

As a general guide, any temperature under 7°C (45 °F) is considered very cold and means you should considerably limit the amount of time your pooch is spending outdoors.

Dogs can develop hypothermia in cold temperatures, so if your dog begins displaying symptoms such as shivering or increased lethargy, return them home to get warm as soon as possible and contact your vet for further advice. 

How can I keep my outside dog warm in winter?

If temperatures drop considerably, it is advisable to bring your dog indoors as much as possible to prevent them from developing any potentially life-threatening conditions. If this is not possible, check on your dog regularly and ensure they have access to a warm shelter, plenty of fresh water and nutrient-dense food.

If your dog feels wet or damp, dry them off as quickly as possible and consider adding several blankets or self-warming mats to their doghouse.

How to keep a doghouse warm in winter

  • Consider investing in an insulated doghouse for maximum warmth and comfort.
  • Ensure the doghouse is at least four inches off the ground for maximum airflow.
  • Add plenty of blankets and soft bedding.
  • Check the doghouse is draft-free and completely weather resistant.
  • You may wish to try a heating dog bed or pad to help retain as much heat as possible.



Do dogs need blankets in winter?

If you think your dog is feeling the cold, adding an extra blanket to their bed can help retain as much warmth as possible.

Try to avoid blankets with large loose threads as these are easy for your pets to pull at with their claws and teeth. It is also recommended to check that your dog can easily move around and escape the blanket if they get too warm.



What temperature is too cold for cats?

A cat’s tolerance to the cold will depend on its age, coat length and any medical conditions that are exacerbated by the cold. While cats can regulate their temperature to an extent, if the weather becomes too cold or their body temperature drops below 32°C (90°F), they are at risk of developing life-threatening conditions, such as hypothermia.

As a general guide, any temperature under 7°C (45°F) is generally considered too cold for cats.



How do I keep my indoor cat warm in the winter?

Keeping cats warm in cold weather can be simple if you follow these helpful tips:

  • Place extra blankets on surfaces they usually sit or lay on to maximise warmth.
  • Ensure the place they usually sleep during the night is draft-free.
  • Consider investing in cat-friendly heat pads or heated beds.
  • Invest in plenty of games and toys, so they stay active and entertained.
  • Open the curtains during the day to allow any sunlight to flood your home to increase warmth.
  • Keep your thermostat at around 21°C (70°F) when you are at home and no lower than 15°C (60°F) 𑈠when you are out during the day.



How can I keep outdoor cats warm in winter?

Keeping a cat warm in winter can be challenging, particularly for an outdoor cat.

While it is recommended you limit the amount of time your cat spends outdoors in low temperatures, if they do go out, you can take the following precautions to help keep them as safe and warm as possible:

  • Ensure they have somewhere warm and dry to shelter in the garden.
  • If you have a cat flap, regularly check to make sure it is still workable and not frozen over.
  • If possible, lock the cat flap overnight to prevent your cat from going out when temperatures are at their lowest.
  • Make sure they have access to fresh clean water and food throughout the day.
  • When your cat returns, dry off any excess dampness or moisture.
  • Check their paws for any grit or snow build-up and cleanse with warm water.



Can cats stay warm in cold weather?

Cats are sensitive to changes in temperature and will attempt to thermoregulate; however, if their body temperature drops below 32 °C (90°F), they are at risk of developing hypothermia.

If your cat begins to shiver, has a slowed heart rate, is cold to the touch and presents with lethargy, they may be experiencing hypothermia. If this occurs, take steps to warm them up as soon as possible and consult your vet for further advice.  


We always strive to keep our pets healthy, but sometimes there will be unforeseen costly trips to the vets; this is why Asda Money offers great pet insurance so that you can have peace of mind on your pets health care. Read more about our flexible cover options here.

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